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Submission + - Implication of Bayesian reasoning in some mental disorder cases (sciencenews.org)

Taco Cowboy writes: Bayesian theorem describes the probability of an event, based on conditions that might be related to the event, but in specific mental disorders the slightest 'misses' of Bayesian guesses lead into dangerous conclusions after inner amplifying loops

People have assumptions about the world, which are either inborn or learned early in life. For example:
Light comes from above
Noses stick out
Objects move slowly
Background images are uniformly colored
Other people’s gazes are directed at us

From within the dark confines of the skull, the brain builds its own version of reality. By weaving together expectations and information gleaned from the senses, the brain creates a story about the outside world

Guesses just slightly off — like mistaking a smile for a smirk — rarely cause harm. But guessing gone seriously awry may play a part in mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, autism and even anxiety disorders

Experiments guided by Bayesian math reveal that the guessing process differs in people with some disorders

People with schizophrenia, for instance, can have trouble tying together their expectations with what their senses detect. And people with autism and high anxiety don’t flexibly update their expectations about the world, some lab experiments suggest. That missed step can muddy their decision-making abilities

Given the complexity of mental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, it is no surprise that many theories of how the brain works have fallen short

Current explanations for the disorders are often vague and untestable. Against that frustrating backdrop, great promises are embedded in a strong mathematical theory, one that can be used to make predictions and may actually be able to test them

Bayesian reasoning may be new to the mental illness scene, but the math itself has been around for centuries. First described by the Rev. Thomas Bayes in the 18th century, this computational approach truly embraces history: Evidence based on previous experience, known as a “prior,” is essential to arriving at a good answer, Bayes argued

He may have been surprised to see his math meticulously applied to people with mental illness, but the logic holds

To make a solid guess about what’s happening in the world, the brain must not rely just on current input from occasionally unreliable senses. The brain must also use its knowledge about what has happened before. Merging these two streams of information correctly is at the heart of perceiving the world as accurately as possible

For example, this image — https://www.sciencenews.org/si... — for ordinary people hollow face on the right looks 'protruding', but the same hollow face won't fool those who are infected with schizophrenia

The way the brain combines incoming sensory information with existing knowledge may also be different in autism, some researchers argue. In some cases, people with autism might put excess weight on what their senses take in about the world and rely less on their expectations

Distorted calculations — and the altered versions of the world they create — may also play a role in depression and anxiety, some researchers think. While suffering from depression, people may hold on to distorted priors — believing that good things are out of reach, for instance. And people with high anxiety can have trouble making good choices in a volatile environment, neuroscientist Sonia Bishop of the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues reported in 2015 in Nature Neuroscience

Scientists can’t yet say what causes this difficulty adjusting to a new environment in anxious people and in people with autism. It could be that once some rule is learned (a sequence of computer keys, or the link between a shape and a shock), these two groups struggle to update that prior with newer information

Math may be able to help clarify mental illnesses in a way that existing approaches can’t, by demystifying psychiatric disorders

By treating the brain as a Bayesian number cruncher, it might lead to a more rigorous understanding of mental illness

Scientists hope that a deeper description of mental illnesses may lead to clearer ways to identify a disorder, chart how well treatments work and even improve therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy could help depressed people recalculate their experiences by putting less weight on negative experiences and perhaps breaking out of cycles of despondence

Beyond these potential interventions, simply explaining to people how their brains are working might ease distress

“If you can give people an explanation that makes sense of some of the experiences they’ve had, that can be a profoundly helpful thing. It destigmatizes the experience”

Submission + - Wireless Charging Standards Groups Agree To Merge (itworld.com)

jfruh writes: The world where our gadgets all charge wirelessly has been delayed by several factors, one of which is that there are three industry groups promoting rival technological standards. That problem is now a little closer to a solution, as the Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance announced a plan to merge.

Submission + - Invasion Of Ukraine Continuing As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling (news.com.au) 3

cold fjord writes: News.com.au reports, "This morning, Prime Minister Tony Abbott labelled Russia’s escalating and “open” invasion into Ukraine as “war”. But he was not only person using fighting words. ... on Friday, Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat was simple. “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words.” It’s the first time in more than 25 years that Moscow has raised the spectre of nuclear war. The difference this time is that its tanks are already pouring over its western borders. “A great war arrived at our doorstep, the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War II,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Valeriy Geletey wrote ... warning of “tens of thousands of deaths”. Putin appears to agree. Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports Putin has told the outgoing European Commission President ... : “If I want, I take Kiev in two weeks.” " — CNN reports, "The British government source told CNN on Friday that Russia has moved 4,000 to 5,000 military personnel — a figure far higher than one U.S. official's earlier claim of 1,000 troops. The soldiers are aligned in "formed units" and fighting around Luhansk and Donetsk.... And they may soon have company: Some 20,000 troops are on border and "more may be on the way," ..." — Newsweek reports, "Russia Has Threatened Nuclear Attack, Says Ukraine Defence Minister"

Submission + - Experimental Drug Compound Found to Reverse Effects of Alzheimer's in Mice (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: While there has been progress made in the fight against Alzheimer's, our understanding of the dispiriting disease remains somewhat limited, with a definitive cure yet to be found. The latest development comes at the hands of researchers from Yale's School of Medicine, who have discovered a new drug compound shown to reverse the effects of Alzheimer's in mice.

Submission + - Earliest Farmers May Not Have Been Able to Digest Starch, Milk (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: The earliest farmers may not have been built for the profession. They may have been unable to digest starch and milk, according to a new ancient DNA study of a nearly 8000-year-old human skeleton from Spain (a hunter-gatherer who had dark skin and blue eyes). But these pioneers did already possess immune defenses against some of the diseases that would later become the scourge of civilization. The findings are helping researchers understand what genetic and biological changes humans went through as they made the transition from hunting and gathering to farming.

Submission + - Obamacare Woes Widen as Insurers Get Wrong Data (foxnews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Fox News reports, "Insurers say faulty data from ObamaCare marketplaces is straining their ability to handle even the first wave of consumers who were able to sign up for health insurance using federally run exchanges during the glitch-ridden rollout of the new law. Executives at more than a dozen health insurance companies say they have received data from online marketplaces that is riddled with errors, including duplicate enrollments, missing data fields and spouses reported as children, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. "The longer this takes to resolvethe harder it will be to get people to [come back and] sign up," Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told the newspaper. ... Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska, which has about 50 ObamaCare enrollees, said it had to stop enrollments from coming through automatically and hire temporary workers to contact customers to fix inaccuracies in submissions ... Joan Budden, a marketing executive at Michigan-based Priority Health, told the newspaper that staff are reaching out to new customers to make sure they are enrolled in the correct plans, after realizing that some had signed up for multiple plans. ... Since the launch of the site, technical problems have prevented many would-be participants from actually enrolling. Administration officials say the operators are working "24/7" to correct the issues."

Submission + - British NHS May Soon No Longer Offer Free Care (independent.co.uk) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Coinciding with challenges in the rollout of the US Affordable Care Act are challenges for NHS. The Independent reports, "A National Health Service free at the point of use will soon be "unsustainable", if the political parties do not come forward with radical plans for change before the 2015 election, top health officials have warned. Stagnant health spending combined with ever rising costs and demand mean the NHS is facing "the most challenging period in its 65-year existence", the NHS Confederation said ... In a frank assessment of the dangers faced by the health service, senior officials at the confederation say that the two years following the next general election will be pivotal in deciding whether the NHS can continue to provide free health care for all patients. "Treasury funding for the service will be at best level in real terms," they write. "Given that demand continues to rise, drugs cost more, and NHS inflation is higher than general inflation, the NHS is facing a funding gap estimated at up to £30bn by 2020."" — From The Guardian: "Our rose-tinted view of the NHS has to change". More at the Independent, Mirror, and Telegraph.

Submission + - New Study: How Copyright Makes Books and Music Disappear (ssrn.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: A new study of books and music for sale on Amazon shows how copyright makes works disappear. The research, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2290181 is described in the abstract: "A random sample of new books for sale on Amazon.com shows three times more books initially published in the 1850’s are for sale than new books from the 1950’s. Why? A sample of 2300 new books for sale on Amazon.com is analyzed along with a random sample of 2000 songs available on new DVD’s. Copyright status correlates highly with absence from the Amazon shelf. Second, the availability on YouTube of songs that reached number one on the U.S., French, and Brazilian pop charts from 1930-60 is analyzed in terms of the identity of the uploader, type of upload, number of views, date of upload, and monetization status. An analysis of the data demonstrates that the DMCA safe harbor system as applied to YouTube helps maintain some level of access to old songs by allowing those possessing copies (primarily infringers) to communicate relatively costlessly with copyright owners to satisfy the market of potential listeners.

Submission + - Motorola is listening

pbritt writes: Ben Lincoln was hooking up to Microsoft ActiveSync at work when
"... I made an interesting discovery about the "Android phone (a Motorola Droid X2) which I was using at the time: it was silently sending a considerable amount of sensitive information to Motorola, and to compound the problem, a great deal of it was over an unencrypted HTTP channel......"

To see what Moto thought they should know about Ben, see:
    http://www.beneaththewaves.net/Projects/Motorola_Is_Listening.html

Submission + - motorola is listening (beneaththewaves.net)

An anonymous reader writes: At least one Motorola/Google recent model phone is found to phone home, including email addresses & passwords, social network activity, and lots of other sensitive info. Discovery involved a reverse-engineering technique involving a MITM https proxy.

Comment Not just Pandas (Score 4, Informative) 149

This isn't likely to have much effect on the survival of the Panda species - for one, a peptide is probably fairly easy to synthesize or produce in some other living system via genetic engineering if it is worth doing so.

Most of all, though - this isn't especially new or restricted to Pandas. Peptide cathelicidins are apparently found in every species they've been looked for, including at least some plants. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/68054804/ for a summary search on this.

It remains to be seen if this is a particularly potent member of the general class or just another more or less interesting data point.

Comment Re:it's been that way for 2000 years (Score 4, Informative) 286

Not good history there. The Catholic church did execute concordats with fascist Italy and Germany, but these were definitely arm's-length agreements whose only purpose (from the church's side) was to secure some basic operational rights in hostile political environments.

In Italy, the Lateran treaty with Mussolini established the Vatican city-state and closed the book on issues, such as reparation for the seizure of the papal states, going back to 1848.

In Germany, the church was more or less officially in opposition to the state since the Kulturkampf of Bismark. In the face of the much more aggressive ideology of the Nazis, the Church did waffle a bit in signing the Reichskonkordat of 1933, but it can be argued that the terms were the best available. It should be noted that it was only the Catholic-majority areas of Germany that did not endorse Nazi rule in 1932.

In neither case could it be reasonably argued that the church and fascist states were "allies".

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